Genotype by environment interactions in coral bleaching

Crawford Drury, Diego Lirman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Climate-driven reef decline has prompted the development of next-generation coral conservation strategies, many of which hinge on the movement of adaptive variation across genetic and environmental gradients. This process is limited by our understanding of how genetic and genotypic drivers of coral bleaching will manifest in different environmental conditions. We reciprocally transplanted 10 genotypes of Acropora cervicornis across eight sites along a 60 km span of the Florida Reef Tract and documented significant genotype × environment interactions in bleaching response during the severe 2015 bleaching event. Performance relative to site mean was significantly different between genotypes and can be mostly explained by ensemble models of correlations with genetic markers. The high explanatory power was driven by significant enrichment of loci associated DNA repair, cell signalling and apoptosis. No genotypes performed above (or below) bleaching average at all sites, so genomic predictors can provide practitioners with 'confidence intervals' about the chance of success in novel habitats. These data have important implications for assisted gene flow and managed relocation, and their integration with traditional active restoration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0177
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1946
StatePublished - Mar 10 2021


  • coral bleaching
  • coral restoration
  • genotype-by-environment interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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